1 What is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)?

PID or Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection of the reproductive organs of the female. Occurring usually sexually transmitted bacteria from the vagina spread to the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.

For most women, the symptoms of PID are unnoticeable.

The disease can only be detected on the later stages when chronic pelvic pain or trouble getting pregnant become obvious.

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2 Symptoms

Pelvic inflammatory disease is characterized with these signs and symptoms:

  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Pain in the pelvic area
  • Heavy vaginal discharge
  • Discharge has unpleasant odor
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Painful urination
  • Fever
  • Irregular menstrual cycle

Most of the time, the signs and symptoms of PID are only minor or none at all, especially when the infection is caused by chlamydia. Run to the ER if you experience the following:

  • Severe lower abdominal pain
  • Signs of shock, e.g. fainting
  • Vomiting
  • Fever

Other symptoms like foul-smelling vaginal discharge, bleeding between cycles and painful urination can be linked to an STI or sexually transmitted infection. If these symptoms appear, refrain from having sex and see a doctor. Immediate diagnosis and treatment of STI can prevent complications, such as PID.

3 Causes

Bacterial infections due to sexually transmitted diseases are the most common cause of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

In some cases, the bacterial infection takes place during the insertion of IUD (intrauterine device), miscarriage, abortion, or childbirth.

4 Making a Diagnosis

If you are experiencing any signs or symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), see a doctor or health care provider to receive a diagnosis.

Pelvic inflammatory disease can be diagnosed based on:

  • signs and symptoms,
  • urine tests,
  • a pelvic examination,
  • testing the vaginal discharge and cervical cultures.

pelvic exam involves taking samples of vaginal and cervical cells and analyzing them under the microspore to determine what’s causing the infection.

Other diagnosing procedures include:

5 Treatment

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) may be treated with:

  • Antibiotics: A combination of antibiotics may be prescribed by your doctor as soon as symptoms become obvious. Once the test results are completed and the cause of infection is determined, medications will be adjusted accordingly. Treatment with antibiotics can help prevent complications from getting serious. However, antibiotics cannot reverse the current damage. 
  • Treatment for your partner: Your sexual partner/s will be advised to get the proper diagnostic and treatment to prevent STI from recurring.
  • Temporary abstinence: Until treatment is completed and follow-up tests indicate all partners are clear from infection, sexual intercourse must be avoided.

For more complicated cases of PID, for instance, you are very ill, or are pregnant and do not respond to any oral medications, hospitalization may be required. Intravenous antibiotics, combined with oral antibiotics will be given. In rare instances when an abscess ruptures or looming to get ruptured, surgery may be required.

6 Prevention

To minimize the risk of having pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), practice the following prevention tips:

  • Practice safe sex: Wearing condoms is a must, especially when you have multiple sexual partner. Ask about your partner’s sexual history and limit the number of sex partners.
  • Discuss other contraception options with your doctor. Certain contraception methods may increase the risk of PID. An IUD or intrauterine device, for instance, may heighten the risk upon insertion of the device. Condoms, on the other hand, protect not only from pregnancy, but also from sexually transmitted infections. 
  • Get tested regularly: If you have a high risk of getting STI (e.g. multiple sexual partners), setting a regular screening schedule is advised. Regular testing will make early treatment possible. 
  • Don’t douche: To prevent imbalance of bacteria in the vagina, do not douche. Maintain a good vaginal hygiene and always wipe from front to back to prevent unwanted bacteria from spreading.

7 Risks and Complications

There are several risks and complications associated with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

The risk factors of pelvic inflammatory disease are:

  • Sexually active female 25 years old and younger
  • Multiple sex partners
  • Has a sexual partner who used to have multiple sex partners
  • Unprotected (without condom) sex
  • Had recently inserted an IUD
  • Douches regularly
  • Has a history of STI or PID 
  • Damage to reproductive organ

Complications may include: 

  • Infertility. PID may damage the reproductive organs, which may cause infertility 
  • Ectopic pregnancy. The most common cause of ectopic pregnancies is PID.
  • Chronic pelvic pain. PID can result in chronic pelvic pain that may last for months, even years. Scarring in the fallopian tubes can lead to painful ovulation and intercourse

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